Palestinians allegedly stab two women in West Bank settlement, shot dead

Jerusalem: Two Palestinians stabbed two women today at a grocery in an Israeli settlement of the West Bank before being shot dead, police and medics said, in the latest in nearly four months of attacks.

Israel’s military said two pipe bombs were also found in the area and were being defused.

One of the women, 23, was said by Israeli medics to be in critical condition after the incident in Beit Horon settlement, northwest of Jerusalem. The other, a 58-year-old, was in moderate condition.

The two Palestinians were shot dead by security guards, Israeli police said, adding one was in his early 20s and the other a teenager.

The attack was the third inside a West Bank settlement since January 17, when an Israeli woman was stabbed to death at the entrance to her home in Otniel. Israeli authorities arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian over that killing.

The following day, a pregnant woman was stabbed and wounded in the Tekoa settlement. The 17-year-old Palestinian assailant was shot by security personnel and taken to hospital in serious condition.

A wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks erupted in October, and many of the assailants have been young people, including teenagers.

Until recently, most of the attacks had occurred in public places such as checkpoints, junctions and entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City.

The fatal stabbing in Otniel led to Israeli outrage and calls for more security measures.

Violence since October 1 has killed 159 Palestinians and 24 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes.

Some analysts say the attacks have been in part driven by frustration with the complete lack of progress in peace efforts, as well as by Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the fractured Palestinian leadership.

Israel says incitement by Palestinian officials and news media has been a main cause of the violence.

The youngest Palestinian attacker killed since the violence began was a 13-year-old girl, who was shot dead by a security guard on Saturday at the entrance to the Anatot settlement in the West Bank.

Video footage published by Israeli media appears to show her clutching a knife and running at the private security guard who then shoots her dead.

Israel has faced questions over whether excessive force has been used in some cases, which it strongly denies.

It has used a series of measures in a bid to halt the unrest, including demolishing assailants’ homes and withholding the bodies of killed attackers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the home of the Palestinian teen accused of the fatal stabbing in Otniel would be demolished as a deterrent.

Rights groups call the measure collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.